The Warm-Up: Get Bielsa to the Premier League as quickly as possible
Plus, Arsenal need to get the best out of Mesut Ozil, Hector Bellerin has some interesting clobber and Mauricio Pochettino has some explaining to do.
MONDAY’S BIG STORIES
Marcelo Alberto Bielsa Caldera is doing his thing in the Championship
Bielsa, nicknamed ‘El Loco’, or 'crazy', has enjoyed a storied managerial career that has spanned three decades, 10 clubs – though one of those tenures lasted two days – and stints in charge of the Chile and Argentine national teams.
Put simply, it was quite the coup when Leeds acquired his services over the summer. However, Bielsa is a maverick, and with mavericks come risk. Basically, the 63-year-old is wedded to his hard-running, high-intensity and tactically dense football. It is Bielsa’s way or implosion.
Thankfully for Leeds, it looks like at the moment Bielsa’s way has been fully embraced by the Leeds players, and it is bearing considerable fruit. Leeds sit top of the Championship at Christmas and look a very good bet to return to the Premier League after a 14-year absence.
There is no guarantee that Leeds’ loyal, and long suffering, fans will be rewarded with Premier League football next season. However, they have already been rewarded with some scintillating, pulsating and breath-taking football. Sunday exemplified Leeds under Bielsa. At 2-0 down against Aston Villa they did not panic but suck to the game plan to fight their way back to win 3-2 with basically the last kick of the game.
The Premier League likes to harp on about being the greatest league in the world but, truth be told, the it is the Championship is where it is at.
So, in conclusion, the sooner Bielsa starts strutting his stuff in the Premier League, the better.
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Mesut Ozil – an absolute and actual baller
Much has been made of Mesut Ozil’s absence from the Arsenal team in recent weeks.
Manager Unai Emery has been evasive when questioned on the German’s situation. However, reading between the lines, and the Warm-Up is exceptional at reading between the lines, the Arsenal manager does not fancy the World Cup winner much.
Mesut Özil (FC Arsenal)Getty Images
In many ways, naming him captain of a depleted Arsenal side for their match against Burnley was confirmation of Emery’s distrust, as articulated below by Islington Gazette reporter Layth Yousif.
However, Ozil produced a timely reminder of his other worldly talent against Burnley with a pre-assist for Pierre Emerick Aubameyang’s opening goal in the Burnley fixture.
The vision was out of the ordinary, and, put simply, Arsenal can’t afford to let him leave the club, as reports have suggested. Perhaps Emery is managing Ozil expertly after the club’s ludicrous decision to offer him a £350,000-a-week contract.
A contract of that magnitude indicates, even on a subconscious level, that a player is indispensable. In fact, a player should be indispensable for that sort of outlay. However, by dropping Ozil, Emery has made it clear that no player – regardless of wage – is undroppable.
It sends a message to the rest of the squad, and shows a ruthlessness sorely lacking in Arsene Wenger’s latter years in charge. Perhaps Ozil will take the proverbial kick and return to marry his undoubted technical brilliance with renewed work rate.
Truth be told, Arsenal need Ozil if they are to break back into the top four – but he must also embarce Emery's way.
Pochettino has a bit of explaining to do
Mauricio Pochettino has done a sterling job at Tottenham; upon his appointment the club was mediocre at absolute best.
Tottenham Hotspur's Argentinian head coach Mauricio Pochettino applauds at the end of the English Premier League football match between Everton and Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on December 23, 2018.Getty Images
Fast forward five years and Tottenham are a top four mainstays, and they cemented their spot in third on Sunday with a 2-6 win away at Everton. Glorious, stuff for those of a Tottenham persuasion.
Post-match it was revealed that Sunday was Pochettino’s 26th wedding anniversary, so it was quite fitting what his side won 2-6.
“Today was unbelievable because all day I was thinking I need to find a present for my wife.
" This is the present! 2-6! "
“I was in my wedding, 26 years ago, and now, yes, the score is 2-6.”
Now Karina Pochettino may or may not want a present but if the Warm-Up had been married to someone for 26 years, the Warm-Up would not be pleased with a scoreline from a Premier League match as a memento of said occasion. The Warm-Up is a very demanding character, mind.
More worryingly, it emerged later on Sunday that it might have been Poch's 24th wedding anniversary.
IN THE CHANNELS
Now, the Warm-Up is too enthralled in the pre-eminent quandaries of our time to have any real knowledge of fashion.
However, sometimes, you just know, and the Warm-Up knows that Hector Bellerin is the most stylish individual in world football.
HEROES AND ZEROES
Hero – Michael Dean
If this man is not on the New Year's Honours list for his contribution to bantering off footballers then this country has completely and truly taken a collective leave of its senses.
“Off you pop.”
What. A. Human.
ZERO – No one, it is Christmas Eve you bunch of grinches.
Marcelo Bielsa’s excellence is in no doubt. There appears there is nothing that can faze him on the pitch.
Actually, that’s not quite right, as evidenced below.